Have You Met... Ren Pilkington?

[November 21, 2023]

Artist by night, Arts Administrator by day: Ren Pilkington (they/them) is a queer Sagittarius Stellium working and creating on Treaty 6 territory. They work as the Sponsorship Specialist for Fringe Theatre, and as an Artist focusing on drag, poetry, collage, and writing. Starting as a Social Media Intern in 2018, Ren has worked in many roles as part of the Fringe team before taking on Fringe’s Sponsorship portfolio in 2021. Most notably, Ren is the evil mastermind behind the Fringe Horoscopes and, yes, they will read you your chart or your cards if you ask. 

Ren smiles for the camera in a fun pose.
When did you start fringing?  

I’ve been fringing since I was in a stroller, so probably late 90s. I started fringing by choice in 2010 with a friend. We came to Fringe and randomly bought a Festival Guide and tickets based on the first Artists that pitched to us. Ever since, I’ve been hooked. Who knew I’d be the one behind the scenes someday?  

How would you describe your job at Fringe?  

I am Fringe’s Sponsorship Specialist, which is so much more exciting than it sounds. I am the first point of contact for Fringe Sponsors and Partners who are interested in supporting Fringe. Art and theatre are work, and there are hard costs to producing the Edmonton Fringe Festival. That’s why we are always thrilled to work with amazing businesses and organizations that support us help us to keep essential Festival experiences (like KidsFringe and our Outdoor Festival Site) free and accessible.  

I support the realization of responsive, tailored relationships that, connect our awesome sponsors with the creative community, and uplift and support hundreds of Artists. Plus, I get to dazzle our partners and sponsors with the unique and electric energy of fringing.  

My job touches almost every single aspect of Fringe, and I love working with some of the best in the industry to make magic happen.  

What is your favourite part of your job? 

I’m the dreamer and the doer. I get the fantastic task of sourcing funding and in-kind goods and services to support all the incredible art that I love. While we’d all love it if it was, creating art isn’t free. It’s essential to seek out partnerships with amazing people who work in other industries. That’s where I come in! When people picture Sponsorship, they imagine corporate mundanity or a NASCAR jacket, but at Fringe, Sponsorship is filled with fun and delight. 

I absolutely love connecting folks, grabbing a coffee, talking about our favourite Fringe experiences, and finding a storytelling piece that really makes all involved shine. 

What are you learning right now?  

Self-producing. As someone who spent a long time behind the scenes, it’s been a new step into creating on my own as an Artist. Whether it’s booking my own gigs, budgeting, creating my first poetry chapbook, applying for funding, or rhinestoning into the wee hours of the night. It’s a marathon to create on your own. 

Who or what inspires you? 

It may sound cheesy but… Megan Dart (Fringe’s Executive Director). She has been a big inspiration to me as an Arts Administrator, Communicator, Artist, and human. Not only is she my mentor, but I also get the great honour of working with her on a daily basis on making weird fun things a reality. I owe all parts of the life I live now to her passing the torch to me and giving me the opportunity to do things my way: The punk rock arts kid way.  

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received? 

At Work: One of my coworkers once said that they admire my ability to have tough conversations and hold space for those to express how they are feeling. This is something I’ve worked really hard on in professional settings and for that to be seen by a coworker and complimented has stuck with me gratefully.  

Out of Work: A friend told me that they were really inspired by my aesthetic. That I have a very unique style and that I own it. This was a big point of pride for an as I love to express myself through style. 

What is an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?  

2023 has been a year of many firsts for me. After getting a horrible concussion in October 2022, I was worried that I would never be able to do any of the things I had been putting off until I felt “ready” (side note: you will never be “ready.) This year I am so proud of all the work I put into rehabilitating myself so that I can create again, dance again, and show up again for those that I love.  

What are you passionate about outside of work?  

Local art, video games (Stardew Valley), climate activism, accessibility, and creating/finding queer joy.  

Anything else you’d like to add?

While Sponsorship is super important to the longevity of Fringe, I am only a part of the puzzle. As one half of the Development team at Fringe, I would be remiss not to mention the other half: Charitable Giving. As a charity, Fringe also relies on the generous support of individual donors. Whether you choose to make a one-time gift and/or commit to making a small gift each month, your support makes an incredible impact. If you love Fringe, and if you love local art, I highly recommend supporting what you love in any way that you can.

Together, we can support community and create unforgettable experiences.  

Every sponsorship is custom, and your tailored benefits may include naming rights, onsite activation and signage, online advertising, exclusive event and ticket opportunities, and website and social media promotion (we see millions of website views and social media impressions in August alone!). 

We build win-win partnerships. We offer outstanding visibility. We are the best place to showcase your brand. 

So, what are you waiting for? Come fringe with us.  

Contact Ren Pilkington, Sponsorship Specialist, at sponsorship@fringetheatre.ca or (780) 448-9000 ext: 8932.


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